PARIS — Vincent Bolloré, the controversial boss of Vivendi and Bolloré Group, is suing the France 2 television channel over the re-airing of an investigative documentary program on him and his Bolloré Group that he says is defamatory. Bolloré is claiming 50 million euros ($55 million) in damages.
Ironically titled “Vincent Bolloré, un ami qui vous veut du bien” (“Vincent Bolloré, a friend who’s here to help”), the program depicts the billionaire’s reportedly rough management methods at Bolloré Group and Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group. Directed by Tristan Waleckx, Mathieu Rénier and Mikael Bozo, the documentary notably features the recording of an off-the-record meeting during which Bolloré fired several high-level executives in September.
The program initially aired on April 7 as part of a TV magazine series called Complement d’Enquete. It was rebroadcast on July 21 France 2, a channel owned by French public broadcaster France Televisions.
“This repeat showing, just a few weeks after the tendentious and totally biased program in question was first broadcast, demonstrates a proven desire to harm the Group by seriously discrediting it. This is undermining its commercial interests,” said Bolloré Group in a statement.
“In order to put an end to this insidious campaign and to protect the interests of both employees and shareholders, the Bolloré Group has summoned France 2 to appear before the Paris Commercial Court so that it can seek to obtain redress for the loss that it has suffered, which is assessed at 50 million euros,” the statement said.
The portion of the documentary that reportedly drew the most objection from Bolloré Group dealt with the work carried out by Socapalm, an industrial palm oil company owned by Bolloré Group in Cameroon. The program denounced the alleged degrading conditions for workers there.
Following the initial airing of the documentary, Bolloré said during Vivendi’s last shareholder meeting in June that one of the African workers interviewed had been paid to lie about his age and the labor conditions. However, Bolloré’s accusations were quickly denied by the host of the documentary series with more interview footage.
Meanwhile, the recorded meeting with Canal Plus underscored the iron-fisted personality of Bolloré, who can be heard telling his employees “”Oh la la, you look serious. Don’t worry, I will be very soft. (…) I’m sorry for those who won’t be part of my team. I have nothing against you, I don’t know you.”